INDIA DEFENCE CONSULTANTS
IS THERE HOPE FOR PAKISTAN?
An IDC Analysis
Delhi, 25 December 2001
The New York Times on 21 Dec carried a very sensitive and accurate article on Pakistan and the role of the ISI in supporting terrorism against India.
reproduce this report in the hope that the saner elements in Pakistan
including President Musharraf will take heed and follow the path of peace!
to puncture our hypocrisy for a moment: We've been battling terrorism by
bolstering backers of terrorism in Pakistan.
our new ally in the war on terrorism, has a long history of supporting
indiscriminate attacks in India and especially Kashmir. The latest,
headline-grabbing attack was the assault on the Parliament building in New
Delhi that now threatens war between two nuclear powers, but many
thousands of civilians have been killed over the years by
Pakistani-financed terrorist organizations.
in all, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, or ISI., is
responsible for many more killings than Osama bin Laden. But however
hypocritical it may be to bolster one government that harbours terrorists
while overthrowing another, there is no good alternative. The Bush
administration is exactly right to be simultaneously supporting Gen.
Pervez Musharraf and twisting his arm to fight terrorism, for he may be
Pakistan's last hope to rescue his country.
today is not only a catastrophe for Pakistanis, but a threat to the entire
region. Its economy is quasi-feudal, some 55 percent of adults are
illiterate and more than 10 percent of children die by the age of 5.
Pakistan now has more drug addicts than college graduates.
the last 20 years public schooling has been partly replaced by madrasas
that preach extremism, the pursuit of nuclear weapons has isolated the
government, and foolish policies have crippled the economy. The ISI's
installation of the Taliban in Afghanistan has backfired, and now there is
a risk of the "Talibanization" of Pakistan, as religious
extremists return from their "crusades" in Afghanistan and
Pashtuns perhaps revive their quest for an independent "Pashtunistan."
Pakistan earlier this monththe newspapers described guerrillas in Kashmir
as "freedom-fighters" if they lived, "martyrs" if they
died. And on The Nation's editorial page appeared this rant: "The
Christian world has not accepted us [Muslims] as human beings even. These
nations are determined to exterminate the Muslims."
Musharraf is in charge of this morass, and –– under strong pressure
from President Bush, and less visible nudging from China –– he has
acted decisively to pull his country toward reality. He ousted the head of
the ISI, permitted the entry of U.S. troops to oust the Taliban, and sent
troops for the first time into tribal areas to capture Taliban escapees.
He has moved to sideline the religious fanatics, close the extremist
madrasas and deport foreign religious students. Next he must clamp down on
the Kashmiri fighters.
the last two years General Musharraf has shown himself capable of brutally
tough decisions, and there is some reason to think that he can regain
control of the ISI (which may have run the latest Indian attack as a rogue
operation), cut off state support for Kashmiri terrorists, nurture a
growing market economy –– and prepare for democratic elections. The
religious parties get less than 5 percent of the vote in Pakistan, and so
democracy can delegitimize extremism as well.
I first traveled around Pakistan as a student backpacker two decades ago,
I sneaked into closed tribal areas and visited a village that was a center
for heroin and gun-running. One gunsmith tried to sell me a pen that could
not only write but also shoot a .22 bullet out the end. Not even a Palm
Pilot can do that, and it was only $7! This incredibly nifty gadget
enthralled me as a symbol of Pakistani ingenuity — and it's also apt
because Pakistan has squandered its considerable potential and excelled
far more at things destructive than constructive.
Pakistan is at a moment of maximum danger, threatened by the instability
caused by returning Taliban fighters on the west and by the risk of war
with India on the east. Similarly, it was at a time when India was near
economic collapse, in the summer of 1991, that New Delhi moved decisively
toward a path of economic reform –– and toward more sensible domestic
and international policies across the board.
Pakistan, after so many wrong turns in its history, has tentatively taken a right one in the last few months. Now it must build on that by clamping down on its own terrorists....."
Adapted from New York Times, 21 Dec 01